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PurpleHull Pea Festival Gaining Ground in Emerson

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Tiller Races
Tiller Races
    Welcome to the Purple Hull Pea Festival
Welcome to the Purple Hull Pea Festival
Dig In!
Dig In!
For Immediate Release

Zoie Clift, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism


Emerson - The engines of the world’s fastest garden tillers will be roaring during the PurpleHull Pea Festival & World Championship Rotary Tiller Race June 29th and 30th in Emerson.

“You simply won't see anything else quite like this festival.” said Bill Dailey, the self-styled “Pea-R Guy” for the festival. “Where else in the world can you see souped-up garden tillers? Some can till the 200-foot track in less than 6 seconds.”

In the small town of Emerson, population 359, high-performance tillers racing down a straightaway has become an annual tradition. Down-home, tongue-in-cheek humor is plentiful during the races and throughout the festival.

The idea for a pea festival with tiller racing was first proposed by Glen Eades, who at the time was a columnist on Emerson-area news in the Magnolia Banner-News. The festival now garners exposure and pays homage to a local delicacy found in most south Arkansas backyard gardens. “We get emails from all over the country and a few from overseas asking about purple hull peas.” said Dailey.

More exposure is also in the forecast as a crew for the television show “Taste of America”, a program on the Travel Channel, is scheduled to drop by the festival to do a story on the event this year.

If there is one thing the festival is known for - besides peas - it's the World Championship Rotary Tiller Race. Souped-up garden tillers from near and far come to compete in the world's premiere tiller racing event. The world record for covering 200 feet of plowed ground was set three years ago by Shane Waller of Junction City, who piloted a modified tiller over the course in 5.72 seconds, an average speed of almost 24 miles an hour. The world championships are the highlight of the tiller racing season, but then again, they are the tiller racing season.

The tiller race itself is scheduled for Saturday at 2:30. Events scheduled throughout the festival also include the Senior Walk for World Peas, the World Cup PurpleHull Pea Shelling Competition, the Million Tiller Parade and the Pea-Stompin’ Street Dance.

Emerson is located in south central Arkansas six miles north of the state’s border with Louisiana and 12 miles south of Magnolia via U.S. 79. More festival information, including a complete schedule and an online application for entering the tiller races are available at Additional information can also be requested by phone at (870) 547-2707.

Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
“Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism”

1 Capitol Mall, 4A-900 - Little Rock, Arkansas 72201 | 1-800-872-1259 or (501) 682-7777 (V/TT)
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